The Legend of a Man Like Oxygen and the Age of Heo Woong

Basketball was introduced to Korea in 1907. It boasts a history of over 100 years. KBL has also been established for over 25 years.

Just as many heroes have settled down in Korean sports history, many stars have risen and lost in basketball. There is a name that is always indispensable when referring to a ‘star’ in Korean basketball history. The person who changed the word ‘star’ into his own pronoun is Lee Sang-min, former Samsung Thunders coach. And now we are living in the ‘age of Heoung’.

The name Lee Sang-min penetrates the basketball party of the 1990s, the golden age of basketball popularity.

His popularity, which continued until the launch of KBL, was overwhelming throughout all sports in Korea. When all the stars of the past who made a mark as the protagonist of the golden age mention the popularity of the time, director Lee Sang-min appears at the cutting edge. There is no doubt that he was the commander-in-chief of the ‘brother’s unit’, which was nothing short of a measure of popularity at the time.

After he retired in 2010, KBL suffered from a lack of stars. Many players have grown into stars of an era and legends representing the league, but no one has inherited Lee Sang-min’s aura.

Along with the decline in basketball popularity, KBL and each club constantly sought new stars, but the void was not filled for nearly 10 years.

However, a new protagonist appeared in its place. Heoung. Even if you don’t know KBL or his team, KCC, there are people who know Heo Woong. The hero of Star Power, who drives the league, has finally appeared.

His immense popularity summons director Lee Sang-min, who was forgotten as a legend. How much is Heo Woong’s popularity compared to ‘player Lee Sang-min’ in the past?

In fact, it may not be a very meaningful question. It’s as exhausting as the ‘Michael Jordan vs LeBron James’ comparisons that gossip so many times in the NBA.

It is not necessary to compare the absolute meaning of the comparison itself. However, we can remember the previous protagonist in the return of an icon who disappeared from basketball, and have expectations about what kind of history the new protagonist will create.

“Personally, I want to be like coach Lee Sang-min. He was good at basketball and was very popular. I want to remain as such a player in fans’ memories even after I retire.”

In July of last year, Heo Ung ultimately expressed his desire to follow the same path as former director Lee Sang-min. For today’s younger generation and those who have been introduced to basketball late, ‘Lee Sang-min’s past’ is as distant and unrealistic as a legend in a fairy tale. How do the officials who went through the era of Lee Sang-min and live in the era of Heo Woong feel their popularity?

Director A pointed out, “Actually, if you were to ask who was more popular, it would be Lee Sang-min. The power of the fans in the gym was really overwhelming.”

Director B also said, “At the time, Lee Sang-min’s popularity was compared to Seo Taiji. Now, Heoung’s popularity is compared to BTS. Lee Sang-min’s popularity was almost a syndrome.” However, those with thick bones in the field add that it is unreasonable to simply compare Lee Sang-min and Heo Woong.

Director A said, “This is simply evaluating what you see. The social conditions at the time and now are different. At the time, basketball competed with other sports, but now it has to compete with other industries as well. The public is interested in other than sports. This is an era in which the elements you can have are enormous. This is why you cannot compare Lee Sang-min and Heo Woong under the same conditions.”

Director B noted that the popularity of basketball itself is also different. He explained, “The popularity of basketball is very different from that time. The difference in the conditions for being interested in basketball players is too great.”

Director C said, “Lee Sang-min’s popularity existed beyond the event or sports. However, if we assume that the popularity of basketball today is at the same level as when Lee Sang-min was active, Heo Ung can be seen as equal to Lee Sang-min.” told

They pointed out that there is a difference between the fan’s disposition from the past and now.

Director C said, “The level of so-called extreme and enthusiastic fans was much higher in the past. In a way, it can be said that they are rough fans. At the time, opponents who prevented Lee Sang-min from doing things were criticized. Aren’t they cursing Heo Woong’s opponents?”

Director A thought the same. He said, “In the first season Lee Sang-min moved to Samsung, he went to Jeonju for the first time, and half of the spectators in the gym chanted Lee Sang-min. I heard it. Considering that it was Jeonju where loyalty to the home team was relatively high, it was even more surprising.”

Director B said, “Isn’t the fan culture mature as the times have changed and developed? I don’t know what this expression is like, but Heo Woong’s fans have quite manners compared to the enthusiastic brother’s troops in the past. Even at that time, culture such as fan letters and gifts However, Heo Woong’s fans are fully showing their influence through online, media, and MD products,” he explained the difference.

Director C said, “Which of the two is more popular, each person may have a different subjective feeling. In the past, Lee Sang-min was the top. The peak period of Lee Sang-min’s popularity was in the late 1990s to the early 2000s. After that, even to the point of retirement. An icon that replaced Lee Sang-min did not come out. It is really great that he did not miss the first place in the All-Star vote even during the season of retirement. After about 20 years, Heo Woong appeared as the top. It is the top and icon that appeared in 20 years. The big tower of the past It would be fun to compare the then and now compared to Lee Sang-min, who was a former basketball player, but it is correct to start interpreting Heo-woong, who is ultimately raising the popularity of basketball, which has declined, from a great point of view.”

Paleozoic about 500 million years ago. The oxygen concentration in Earth’s atmosphere has reached 35%. Breathing becomes difficult even if the oxygen concentration decreases by only 0.5%, but at that time, compared to the present (21%), the oxygen concentration was extremely high. This era of oxygen led to the ‘Cambrian Explosion’, and various species on Earth rapidly increased, evolved, and diversified. The phenomenon of sea creatures rising to the surface continued.

When Lee Sang-min, a man like oxygen, existed in Korean basketball, there was a lot of popularity, and various fans commanded the basketball court. It was an era of rapid growth. Invisible fans, fans who did not exist before appeared on the surface. 메이저놀이터

The Earth faced the Permian extinction as the oxygen concentration fell to the 10% level. This is the time when more than 90% of life on Earth became extinct. Basketball also faced a long dark period before and after the disappearance of the ‘Oxygen Man’. And Heo Woong emerged as a new hope at such a time.

He’s far more fan-friendly and media-active than most players from the golden age of basketball. The virtuous cycle caused by Heo Woong will also affect other players and the event itself. It’s a new opportunity for basketball.

Jeon Chang-jin Jeonju KCC Egis coach
Lee Sang-min’s popularity was really great. Its popularity was really at its peak during college, rather than as a professional basketball party. That popularity has continued to the pros, but in a way, (Heo) Woong seems to have enough popularity to surpass that. After the morning workout, the fans brought coffee, so I asked Woong-i, “How do you repay the fans for all this?”, and he said, “You have to pay back with basketball.” What a great idea. I think it is meaningful because I work harder for the fans and show the fans that I am a sincere player. Lee Sang-min then and Heo-ung now are all very popular players, but who was more popular… Well? Isn’t the present more important than the past? Apparently, I am the director who has Heo Ung. (Laughs)

Choo Seung-gyun, SPOTV commentator
(Lee) Sang-min’s popularity was great. can’t speak By today’s standards, it is unimaginable and unmeasurable. When KCC went on an expedition to Jamsil, the large Jamsil Gymnasium was almost full because of Sangmin hyung. Since Sang-min hyung, no other player has shown such star power. Playing on the same team as such a player has many positive effects. There are a lot of fans of our team at the stadium, so it feels like the adrenaline rushes up during the game. the game is fun Sangmin hyung’s fans support our team players, and my fans also grow that way. Now, Heo Woong’s popularity is also considerable. They said that the fan spirit is different from our time. That’s great. If you go to the stadium for commentary, there are definitely a lot of spectators at the games Heoung plays. The Heoung effect is clear. With a lot of media exposure, KBL’s popularity seems to be getting better than before. I hope that all clubs and other players will be a little more active when opportunities for media exposure arise.

Jung Young-sam and SPOTV commentator
Lee Sang-min’s popularity was enormous. He was a huge idol to me, and I felt like a celebrity, not a basketball star, and I felt like I couldn’t be touched. When I was a rookie, I fouled coach (Lee Sang-min), who had transferred to Samsung, and there was a time when female fans in the stands were blaming and swearing. It was that popular. It was to the extent that it affected the opponent’s performance. He was also envious. I feel that Heo Woong’s popularity is also great. I had a retirement ceremony at the Korea Gas Corporation opening game, and unfortunately, the opponent was KCC. The crowd filled up to the third floor. I thought for a moment, ‘So many fans came to my retirement ceremony’, then I realized that they were Heo Woong’s fans. It was the day I properly received the ‘Heo Woong Buff’. Still, it’s a retirement ceremony, isn’t it better to do it in front of a lot of people? I was so grateful to Huh Woong. Personally, I still feel that senior Lee Sang-min’s popularity at that time was even greater. However, I think Heo Woong’s popularity has also exceeded what can be expected in basketball right now. As a senior, I am proud to be leading the popularity of basketball, and I feel sorry for him as he seems to be struggling alone.

Heo Hoon
‘s popularity doesn’t seem to cool down. It feels different from seeing it from the outside. Rather than being envious, it’s a pity that I can’t play in the All-Star Game this time in Suwon. I don’t have plans to visit the All-Star game yet, but I’ll think about it. I’ve heard a lot about director Lee Sang-min’s popularity before. But maybe it’s because I’m not from the generation that saw coach Lee Sang-min play as a player, so I can’t directly relate to him. Of course, it would be an honor if hyung, I, or coach Lee Sang-min could break many records. However, even if he doesn’t set a special record, he’s just happy to run while receiving support like he is now. Even after I am discharged, I want to continue to play as good players while supporting each other.

Choi Hyun-shik, KBL Public Relations Team Leader
, was really amazing. A cloud of spectators gathered to see player Lee Sang-min. He had a lot of active fans, and because of that, he got a lot of media attention. Lee Sang-min led such popularity. Although it cannot be viewed with the same standards, Heo Woong is also enjoying popularity comparable to Lee Sang-min in terms of current trends. If there is a slight difference, it seems that there is a change of generation. If Lee Sang-min was focused on legacy media, he is now receiving attention through various media including social media. The mindset of players has also changed from the past. In the past, it was believed that it was right for athletes to focus only on exercise, but now it is an era where they use various media channels and do self-PR. Being sincere, humble, and working hard at basketball seems to be what they have in common then and now.

Son Dae-beom KBS N commentator
Lee Sang-min ran a PC communication basketball club during the heyday of Yonsei University, so I vividly remember its popularity. After the game, the chat room was full. A variety of articles were also posted, ranging from ‘supporting my brother’ to professional analysis. It felt like the current ‘I LOVE NBA’ or ‘NBA Maniac’. But offline was hotter than online. It was not easy to get tickets, and the heat in front of the gym was hot. I wonder if it would have become hotter if there were SNS like now. Now, you can feel the popularity of Heo Woong in many places. The stadium is obvious, and you can tell just by looking at the number of ‘Likes’ on social media posts tagged with Heo Woong. Even those who don’t know basketball know Heo Woong. Whether he is the son of coach Heo Jae, a KBL star, or a sports player on variety shows, he recognizes Heo Woong as a ‘handsome man’ and brings up the story. I wonder if there is another basketball player other than Heo Woong and Heo Hoon whose name is naturally mentioned among the general public these days. I think it’s a new kind of popularity. It seems to be more systematic than the basketball court days. Should I say it has evolved? I think the popularity of an individual player is more influential than Lee Sang-min. It’s a pity that it didn’t lead to the expansion of the basketball base as the brothers Heo Woong and Heo Hoon thought, but it’s not the two brothers’ fault. In the case of Lee Sang-min, the terrifyingly explosive popularity of basketball in Korea also played a role, and I think it was mutually beneficial. Although I use an abstract expression of surpassing it, considering the environment of the times, I don’t think there has been a player like this compared to any other star that came out after Lee Sang-min. In terms of basketball, Lee Sang-min won the championship game for 2 years in a row, won the regular league for 3 years in a row, won the basketball court party, triple-double, He is an important figure that must be mentioned in the list of ‘Great Players of KBL’, such as the Asian Games gold medal. All achieved in their prime. Heo Woong is also accumulating achievements at a very fast pace in terms of scoring and shooting. If I even achieve the championship in prime time, I wonder if I will rise to the ranks of stars that no one can say anything about.

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